According to the NASA blog, Commander Shane Kimbrough, of Texas, and astronaut Peggy Whitson, of Iowa, are upgrading the International Space Station's power system.
Astronauts went spacewalking Friday to hook up fancy new batteries on the International Space Station's sprawling power grid.
By the time Kimbrough and Whitson began their spacewalk Friday, all three lithium-ion batteries needed by S4 power channel 3A had been replaced and three of the older NiH2 batteries had been moved to a nearby pallet. They'll also store some of the old nickel-hydrogen batteries on top of the new adaptor plates. For example, Kimbrough's flight navigator, Peggy Whitson, spent nearly 48 hours outside the command module, and the oldest female to spend that much time in space.
Robotics controllers remotely operated from Earth removed the nickel-hydrogen batteries and installed the new lithium-ion units on the starboard-4 truss over the Xmas/New Year period, ready for the astronauts to wrap up the commissioning work. The batteries had earlier been placed there using a robotic arm. Kimbrough will have its third and fourth spacewalk, and Whitson will have the 7th spacewalk of her career, matching the record of Suni Williams of NASA, for highest number of Spacewalks by a woman. "Therefore, we need to build larger tools that have specially designed handles and triggers that make it easier for them to work in their suits".
Kounotori cargo craft will transport the remaining 18 batteries to the station during the next 3 years.
The three cosmonauts worked on an array of station maintenance tasks and advanced space experiments.
Today's spacewalk is just the beginning for the ISS battery switch. So this months' installation is only replacing a fraction of the full battery supply. Pesquet will conduct the second spacewalk January 13 with Kimbrough to wrap up the battery installation work.